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Bosnian is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian, more specifically on Eastern Herzegovinian, which is also the basis of Standard Croatian, Serbian, and Montenegrin. Until the dissolution of SFR Yugoslavia, they were treated as a unitary Serbo-Croatian language, and that term is still used in English to subsume the common base (vocabulary, grammar and syntax) of what are today officially four national standards, although this term is controversial for native speakers, and paraphrases such as "Serbo-Croato-Bosnian" (SCB) or "Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian" (BCS) are therefore sometimes used instead, especially in diplomatic circles.
School book of Latin and Bosnian, 1827
Bosnian Grammar, 1890
Old Bosnian alphabets: bosan?ica (top line) and arebica (bottom line), compared with contemporary latinica (middle line)
Although Bosnians are, at the level of colloquial idiom, linguistically more homogeneous than either Serbians or Croatians, unlike those nations they failed to codify a standard language in the 19th century, with at least two factors being decisive:
The Bosnian elite, as closely intertwined with Ottoman life, wrote predominantly in foreign (Turkish, Arabic, Persian) languages.Vernacular literature written in Bosnian with the Arebica script was relatively thin and sparse.
The Bosnians' national emancipation lagged behind that of the Serbs and Croats, and because denominational rather than cultural or linguistic issues played the pivotal role, a Bosnian language project did not arouse much interest or support amongst the intelligentsia of the time.
The literature of the so-called "Bosnian revival" at the start of the 20th century was written in an idiom that was closer to the Croatian standard than to the Serbian one: it was a western Shtokavian dialect with an Ijekavian accent and used a Latin script, but had recognizable Bosnian lexical traits. The main authors were the polymath, politician and poet Safvet-beg Ba?agi? and the storyteller Edhem Mulabdi?.
The modern Bosnian standard took shape in the 1990s and 2000s. Lexically, Islamic-Oriental loanwords are more frequent; phonetically: the phoneme /x/ (letter h) is reinstated in many words as a distinct feature of vernacular Bosniak speech and language tradition; also, there are some changes in grammar, morphology and orthography that reflect the Bosniak pre-World War I literary tradition, mainly that of the Bosniak renaissance at the beginning of the 20th century.
Nauk krstjanski za narod slovinski, by Matija Divkovi?, the first Bosnian printed book. Published in Venice, 1611
The Free Will and Acts of Faith, manuscript from the early 19th century
The Bosnian Book of the Science of Conduct by 'Abdulwah?b b.' Abdulwah?b ?ep?ew?, 1831
Bosnian Grammar, 1890
Controversy and recognition
A cigarette warning "Smoking seriously harms you and others around you", ostensibly in three languages. The "Bosnian" and "Croatian" versions are identical and the "Serbian" is a transliteration of the same.
The name "Bosnian language" is a controversial issue for some Croats and Serbs, who also refer to it as the "Bosniak" language (Serbo-Croatian: bo?nja?ki / ; [ba:t?ki:]). Bosniak linguists however insist that the only legitimate name is "Bosnian" language (bosanski), and that that is the name that both Croats and Serbs should use. The controversy arises because the name "Bosnian" may seem to imply that it is the language of all Bosnians, while Bosnian Croats and Serbs reject that designation for their idioms.
The language is called Bosnian language in the 1995 Dayton Accords and is concluded by observers to have received legitimacy and international recognition at the time.
Most English-speaking language encyclopaedias (Routledge, Glottolog,Ethnologue, etc.) register the language solely as "Bosnian" language. The Library of Congress registered the language as "Bosnian" and gave it an ISO-number. The Slavic language institutes in English-speaking countries offer courses in "Bosnian" or "Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian" language, not in "Bosniak" language (e.g. Columbia, Cornell, Chicago, Washington, Kansas). The same thing in German-speaking countries, where the language is taught under the name Bosnisch, not Bosniakisch (e.g. Vienna, Graz, Trier) with very few exceptions.
The constitution of Republika Srpska, the Serb-dominated entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, did not recognize any language or ethnic group other than Serbian. Bosniaks were mostly expelled from the territory controlled by the Serbs from 1992, but immediately after the war they demanded the restoration of their civil rights in those territories. The Bosnian Serbs refused to make reference to the Bosnian language in their constitution and as a result had constitutional amendments imposed by High RepresentativeWolfgang Petritsch. However, the constitution of Republika Srpska refers to it as the Language spoken by Bosniaks, because the Serbs were required to recognise the language officially, but wished to avoid recognition of its name.
Serbia includes the Bosnian language as an elective subject in primary schools.Montenegro officially recognizes the Bosnian language: its 2007 Constitution specifically states that although Montenegrin is the official language, Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian are also in official use.
Historical usage of the term
In the work Skazanie izjavljenno o pismeneh that was written between 1423 and 1426, the Bulgarian chronicler Constantine the Philosopher, in parallel with the Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Czech and Croatian, he also mentions the Bosnian language.
The notary book of the town of Kotor from July 3, 1436 recounts a duke buying a girl that is described as a: "Bosnian woman, heretic and in the Bosnian language called Djevena".
The work Thesaurus Polyglottus, published in Frankfurt am Main in 1603 by the German historian and linguist Hieronymus Megiser, mentions the Bosnian dialect alongside the Dalmatian, Croatian and Serbian one.
The Bosnian Franciscan Matija Divkovi?, regarded as the founder of the modern literature of Bosnia and Herzegovina, asserts in his work "Nauk krstjanski za narod slovinski" ("The Christian doctrine for the Slavic peoples") from 1611 his "translation from Latin to the real and true Bosnian language" ("A privideh iz dija?kog u pravi i istinit jezik bosanski")
One of the first grammarians, the Jesuit clergyman Bartolomeo Cassio calls the language used in his work from 1640 Ritual rimski (Roman Rite) as na?ki ("our language") or bosanski ("Bosnian"). He used the term "Bosnian" even though he was born in a Chakavian region: instead he decided to adopt a "common language" (lingua communis) based on a version of ShtokavianIkavian.
The Italian linguist Jacobus Micalia (1601-1654) who states in his dictionary Blagu jezika slovinskoga (Thesaurus lingue Illyricae) from 1649 that he wants to include "the most beautiful words" adding that "of all Illyrian languages the Bosnian is the most beautiful", and that all Illyrian writers should try to write in that language.
18th century Bosniak chronicler Mula Mustafa Ba?eskija who argues in his yearbook of collected Bosnian poems that the "Bosnian language" is much richer than the Arabic, because there are 45 words for the verb "to go" in Bosnian.
The Venetian writer, naturalist and cartographer Alberto Fortis (1741-1803) calls in his work Viaggio in Dalmazia (Travels into Dalmatia) the language of Morlachs as Illyrian, Morlach and Bosnian.
The Croatian writer and lexicographer Matija Petar Katan?i? published six volumes of biblical translations in 1831 described as being "transferred from Slavo-Illyrian to the pronunciation of the Bosnian language".
Croatian writer Matija Ma?urani? refers in the work Pogled u Bosnu (1842) to the language of Bosnians as Illyrian (a 19th-century synonym to South Slavic languages) mixed with Turkish words, with a further statement that they are the speakers of the Bosniak language.
The Bosnian Franciscan Ivan Franjo Juki? states in his work Zemljopis i Poviestnica Bosne (1851) that the Bosnia was the only Turkish land (i.e. under the control of the Ottoman Empire) that remained entirely pure without Turkish speakers, both in the villages and so on the highlands. Further he states "[...] a language other than the Bosnian is not spoken [in Bosnia], the greatest Turkish [i.e. Muslim] gentlemen only speak Turkish when they are at the Vizier".
Ivan Kukuljevi? Sakcinski, a 19th-century Croatian writer and historian, stated in his work Putovanje po Bosni (Travels into Bosnia) from 1858, how the 'Turkish' (i.e. Muslim) Bosniaks, despite converting to the Muslim faith, preserved their traditions and the Slavic mood, and that they speak the purest variant of the Bosnian language, by refusing to add Turkish word to their vocabulary.
Differences between Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian
The differences between the Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian literary standards are minimal. Although Bosnian employs more Turkish, Persian, and Arabic loanwords--commonly called orientalisms--it is very similar to both Serbian and Croatian in its written and spoken form.
The Bosnian language, as a new normative register of the Shtokavian dialect, was officially introduced in 1996 with the publication of Pravopis bosanskog jezika in Sarajevo. According to that work, Bosnian differed from Serbian and Croatian on some main linguistic characteristics, such as: sound formats in some words, especially "h" (kahva versus Serbian kafa); substantial and deliberate usage of Oriental ("Turkish") words; spelling of future tense (kupit ?u) as in Croatian but not Serbian (kupi?u) (both forms have the same pronunciation).
^Benjamin V. Fortson, IV, Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (2010, Blackwell), p. 431, "Because of their mutual intelligibility, Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian are usually thought of as constituting one language called Serbo-Croatian."
^Václav Bla?ek, "On the Internal Classification of Indo-European Languages: Survey" retrieved 20 Oct 2010, pp. 15-16.
^ ab"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-17. Retrieved .CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) See Art. 13 of the Constitution of the Republic of Montenegro, adopted on 19 October 2007, available at the website of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Montenegro
^Algar, Hamid (2 July 1994). Persian Literature in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Journal of Islamic Studies. Oxford. pp. 254-68. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
^Bali?, Smail (1978). Die Kultur der Bosniaken, Supplement I: Inventar des bosnischen literarischen Erbes in orientalischen Sprachen. Vienna: Adolf Holzhausens, Vienna. p. 111. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
^Bali?, Smail (1992). Das unbekannte Bosnien: Europas Brücke zur islamischen Welt. Cologne, Weimar and Vienna: Bohlau. p. 526. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
^Svein Mønnesland, »Language Policy in Bosnia-Herzegovina«, (pp 135-155.). In: Language : Competence-Change-Contact = Sprache : Kompetenz - Kontakt - Wandel, edited by: Annikki Koskensalo, John Smeds, Rudolf de Cillia, Ángel Huguet; Berlin ; Münster : Lit Verlag, 2012., ISBN978-3-643-10801-2, p. 143. "Already in 1990 the Committee for the Serbian language decided that only the term 'Bosniac language' should be used officially in Serbia, and this was confirmed in 1998."
Gröschel, Bernhard (2001). "Bosnisch oder Bosniakisch?" [Bosnian or Bosniak?]. In Waßner, Ulrich Hermann. Lingua et linguae. Festschrift für Clemens-Peter Herbermann zum 60. Geburtstag. Bochumer Beitraäge zur Semiotik, n.F., 6 (in German). Aachen: Shaker. pp. 159-188. ISBN978-3-8265-8497-8. OCLC47992691.
—— (2011). "Jezi?na politika: prosvje?ivati ili zamagljivati?" [Language policy: to clarify or to obscure?] (PDF). In Gavri?, Sa?a. Jezi?ka/e politika/e u Bosni i Hercegovini i njema?kom govornom podru?ju: zbornik radova predstavljenih na istoimenoj konferenciji odr?anoj 22. marta 2011. godine u Sarajevu (in Serbo-Croatian). Sarajevo: Goethe-Institut Bosnien und Herzegowina ; Ambasada Republike Austrije ; Ambasada ?vicarske konfederacije. pp. 60-66. ISBN978-9958-1959-0-7. OCLC918205883. Archived(PDF) from the original on 30 March 2013.(ÖNB).